Angel92: A vote — from anyone — is a terrible thing to waste
A vote — from anyone — is a terrible thing to waste
Every political party gets out the vote on voting day.
Their vote. And only their vote.
GOTV, as it’s called, is an axiom of www.babewest.com/jake-gardiner-jersey-c-1_7.html">http://www.babewest.com/jake-gardiner-jersey-c-1_7.html democracy. And yet the better that parties get at GOTV, the less democratic the turnout tends to be. From one election to the next, a political movement masters the technique or musters the technology to outhustle all rivals on voting day. But do we really want elections decided on the strength of a well-oiled electoral machine rather than a well-honed democratic impulse?
What if we got out the full vote (GOTFV) with a full pull — motivated not by partisanship but participation?
That’s what the Canadian Muslim Vote tried in the last federal election — and plans again for the coming provincial ballot. Mindful that Muslims vote far less than others, the group’s volunteers focused on their own faith group — but without trying to divine anyone’s partisan loyalties.
“We didn’t care who they’d vote for,” said Seher Shafiq, part of the leadership team at the non-partisan, non-profit organization.
As long as they voted for someone. For too long, too many of Canada’s 1.3 million Muslims voted for no one, she told a panel on democratic engagement that I moderated at Ryerson University on the weekend because this issue is crucial for me. Her group tried to understand how Muslim participation in the 2011 election was a mere 35 to 45 per cent in key ridings, compared to the national turnout of 61 per cent.
“We were shocked by this research . . . and we wanted to know why,” Shafiq told a couple of hundred democracy activists at the conference sponsored by Ryerson’s Leadership Lab and the Open Democracy Project.
The reasons were both banal and discouraging; people didn’t know who to vote for, how to vote, how to master the issues, and how to get engaged. In short, how they could make a difference.
Focused mostly on ridings in the Greater Toronto Area — where most volunteers, and most Muslims, happen to live — the group attended hundreds of grassroots events, paid for robocalls, mounted a social media push, and knocked on thousands of doors. Celebrity endorsements were part of the campaign, including Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri.
The bigger stars, however, were influential imams at local mosques. Her group persuaded them to praise the virtues of civic engagement and democracy in their regular sermons.
“For the first time ever, people saw the Muslim community was organizing politically,” she told the audience. “We really felt the buzz.”
It added up to a dramatic increase in the Islamic turnout — 79 per cent in the 2015 election versus 45 per cent in the previous vote, according to public opinion research commissioned by the group. In nine GTA ridings targeted by the www.blackhawksnhlproshop.com/erik-gustafsson-jersey-c-1_47.html">http://www.blackhawksnhlproshop.com/erik-gustafsson-jersey-c-1_47.html group, the Islamic turnout averaged 88 per cent.
The Canadian Muslim Vote doesn’t take full credit for the improvement. Community concerns were bubbling up over perceived anti-Islamic rhetoric after the Stephen Harper government talked about banning religious face coverings, and proposed a “barbaric cultural practices” snitch line.
But I asked Shafiq if lessons learned from the Muslim mobilization could be transferable to other groups in the next provincial election. She is already comparing notes with Black Vote Canada and other organizations that motivate voters.
“Without talking to them — and having people who look like them talk to them — I don’t think they will be as engaged as they could be.”
Fellow panelist Dave Meslin, a grassroots activist trying to reform the electoral system, dismissed traditional GOTV as “a scam” that merely harasses people on election day, with little evidence that it improves democratic outcomes.